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Discovering the roles of debranching enzymes in starch metabolism in arabidopsis

English title Discovering the roles of debranching enzymes in starch metabolism in arabidopsis
Applicant Zeeman Samuel C.
Number 116434
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Departement Umweltsystemwissenschaften ETH Zürich
Institution of higher education ETH Zurich - ETHZ
Main discipline Botany
Start/End 01.04.2007 - 31.03.2010
Approved amount 425'641.00
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All Disciplines (3)

Molecular Biology

Keywords (11)

arabidopsis; starch metabolism; amylopectin structure; debranching enzyme; functional genomics; starch granules; plant carbohydrates; Arabidopsis thaliana; photosynthesis; nutrition; biofuels

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
Starch is one of the most important substances produced by plants. It is the major component of our staple crops (cereals, potatoes, legumes) and accounts for half of mankind's food. Starch is also a raw material for many industrial applications and for the production of bioethanol - an important renewable substitute for petroleum. Starch is composed of polymers of the simple sugar, glucose. Amylopectin is the major constituent polymer. It is a macromolecule containing up to 100'000 glucosyl units. Amylopectin is branched and has a precisely-defined, tree-like structure. The branching pattern enables amylopectin molecules to form a semi-crystalline matrix, resulting in dense insoluble starch granules. To make this structure, plants possess a set of enzymes to elongate chains and insert branch points. There is also evidence that the branched structure needs to be adjusted through partial debranching in order for it to crystallise. Our SNF-funded research project aims to test this hypothesis using the model plant species Arabidopsis thaliana. Using Arabidopsis allows research to progress rapidly. We are testing whether each of the four debranching enzymes present in Arabidopsis is required for starch synthesis, or for starch degradation, by disrupting the genes that encode them. We then analyse if starch is made normally using biochemical techniques. Because starch is made in the same way in most plants, including our crops, this research will be directly relevant to agriculture, enabling future crop improvement in terms of altered starch properties and/or yields.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
67312 Discovering the role of debranching enzymes in starch metabolism in Arabidopsis 01.11.2002 Project funding (Div. I-III)
131074 Discovering the roles of debranching enzymes in starch metabolism in arabidopsis 01.04.2010 Project funding (Div. I-III)